Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross takes listeners into the near future for this breathtaking thriller. As head of the Rule 34 Squad, Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh keeps a close eye on Internet activity, monitoring whether people are participating in harmless fantasies or engaging in illegal activities. When three criminal spammers are murdered, it’s up to Liz to determine how the victims were connected. If she can’t figure it out, more people will surely die.
©2011 Charles Stross (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
[See Review of Halting State]
I enjoy hard science fiction particularly when it comes in very long books or multiple book series -- with one or more of the following themes: modern space operas, complex storylines, detective or noir/cyberpunk overtones, cascading clever thoughts/dialogue and/or military. This has led me to works by Peter F. Hamilton (Void Trilogy, Greg Madel Series), Dan Simmons (Hyperion), Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space Trilogy, Terminal World), Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon) and most recently Charles Stross.
Halting State and Rule 34 are a swirling, clever, funny and very complex pair of police procedurals done just enough into the future to look at the next big thing in social engineering, computing, communications and just about anything else you can imagine.
When I read the first book, Halting State, I initially found it hard to get into the three rotating storylines and the fact that the narration is, oddly, in the second person -- but it was worth the work to do so. This book is less frantic and easier to track than the first one. Again though, it is a rock solid procedural with a clever and appealing set of smart characters. Once again, the FANTASTIC Scottish dialect (and absolutely tremendous performance by the reader) and will sweep you away as the twists and turns look like a cross between HOMELAND and a LaCarre novel. I have moved these two book up to my top ten list -- and hope that we get a wee bit more in the future.
In the same vein that William Gibson set the standard for envisioning an interconnected, online virtual reality 30 years ago, Charles Stross is setting the standard today for the evolution of the development in an online, virtual reality world that is coming to play an ever greater role in our lives today.
While Rule 34 can be viewed as a sequel to his previously excellent, Halting State, only locale (Scotland) and Inspector Liz have been retained. This story begins with a murder with several unusual circumstances. As the story unfolds, other seemingly independent players are introduced with eventual intersections that become quite complex involving more bizarre murders, international financial wizardry, and software designed to ferret out crime. All the while, Stross is exploring possibilities in online capabilities as well as developments in manufacturing analogous to earlier developments of electrical dynamos leading to small, electric motors. As far as near future stories go (over the next 25 years), Stross does an excellent job of creating a plausible, believable world that could develop.
Most fascinating about the story is Stross selection of a multiple, third person narrative style with a continual stream of consciousness. The reader is always inside the head of a character getting a front row seat to all the action as well as internal commentary that includes witty and humorous observations on how things do and don't work out well.
The narrator does an exceptional job of rendering Scottish accents in a manner that is perfectly understandable in addition to other non-Scottish characters.
Be prepared for 12 hours of foul language , disgusting sexual perverts, and atrocious psychos. As usual the author's science is good and has sharp insights into some of topical issues of the day. His characters are almost 3D and the story moves right along. I like the narrator. He has a lot of heavy brogues and accents that require you close attention to follow, but, he grows on you. I didn't enjoy this story as much as some of the authors others, all the crud starts to weigh on you after a while.
I love following the threads in a Charlie Stoss novel just to see the inventive ways he comes up with to create the final collision. This collision is superb! The accents are jarring at first for my american ears, and we have to be imersed in the world of internet policing, but it is worth the wait, and I know a bit more about where from and how all this %$#!?(grrr)*!!! spam I get evey day is coming from.
This is hard SciFi in a world that could could happen in our lifetimes, no space cowboys and no fae pricesses. A little slow start getting in, but like I said, american ears.... Worth a read for CS fans.
When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!
Rule 34 is an interesting peek into the future of law enforcement and how computers will 'help' maintain law and order. This story also touches on the criminal enterprises, monetary markets, social networking and the maker community. Mr. Stross weaves an interesting tale and introduces us to some strong characters. I found some political and career development comments extremely humorous - laughing out loud humorous.
I could not imagine a better narrator for this book. It may take American listeners a while to pick up on his accent - but you are richly rewarded for your efforts. His performance makes listening to this book immensely enjoyable. I caution you there are some sexual passages (of which only I think only one is significant to the story) that may offend some listeners.
Another solid and darkly humorous entry by Stross. He turns a satirical eye on technology in this SF mystery where those involved in spamming (yes, that kind of spamming) start dying in mysterious ways, done in by household appliances. Who are what is knocking them off? Is it all an attempt to lessen inbox junk? Stross again turns to first person narratives, and with one of the three central POV characters a sociopath, it is definitely interesting. Not for those who don't like their technology with humor, who dislike strong language, or find descriptions of unapologetic and unromantic sex off-putting.
I found this title to be hard to follow due to the switching between each character and telling it from their point of view. I couldn't keep up with what was happening to whom.
I write reviews for books I think are good and those that I think are bad. I don't see why this one made it to publication much less into an Audible book. The story cannot be followed, the characters are hard to understand, and the assumptions about police work in the future are way out of line. Read J D Robb's books if you want ones with good ideas about policing in the future.
Mr MacKenzie is awesome for the Scottish accents. His colonel Datka is amazing as well. Great performance.
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